Thursday, September 29, 2011

we made it!

600 miles traveled,
10+ hours in the car,
4 restless (understandably) children,
1 wife who promised to stay up with her husband but ended up snoozing by mile 5,
3 different stops for gas, bathroom break, and food,
2 showings of Rio on the car dvd player,
11 chapters read on the ipad...


WE MADE IT TO UH-GIN-YA!!! (that's how Jack says Virginia)

I'm beat and a little deflated as the search for a place to live is not going at all like we had hoped, so I'm just going to share the thoughts that are bouncing around this head of mine. You can thank me later.

....the Norfolk area is a a crazy big military spot. And the bases are so odd and not what I am used to. Instead of one big base with 4 or 5 entrances, there are 824 smaller bases, each with multiple points of entry. Even with a map and a husband who speaks to me verrrrrrry sloooooooowly using hand gestures, I am so lost.

....the military housing process could use some serious streamlining. We have been told 15 different things by 5 different people, each conflicting with the information we heard before, all employed at the same place. We finally found a person that knows her stuff AND gave me her direct line (AWESOME!!!), but got some bad news as far as when we can expect a home. Soooooo, if any of you have a house to rent in the greater Norfolk area that's within the BAH for an E6 with dependents, HOLLA!

....I want to be a cotton farmer. (so long as the farming does not happen until 8am) Or anything farmer that lets me have loads of unspoiled land so my kids can explore for days and days and all I can see is green growth and blue sky. 

....I owe my kids a really great fun day after all this. They were good in the car, they have been good as we've driven around to check out schools and homes in the area, and they've been good as we sat to fill out paper work, make necessary phone calls, and stopped at offices to take care of business. After running around all day, we are now signing our name on stacks of paper taller than me, and they are contently sitting on the couch in the hotel watching a movie. (I stopped to get their sweet faces)

....Norfolk is expecting Fall to arrive on Friday, which means the boots and sweaters I brought get to come out of the suitcase! Get excited!!

.....we are keeping our minds open to different possibilities this winter- about where we will live, what we need to get by, the things we want in our lives and what we can live without, how our children are educated, and whether we want to pursue other goals. 2012 might well be a foundation-shaking year for the Nelsons.

.....Bridesmaids is available for rent in iTunes!?!?! Woot!!! So that means tonight is gonna be paperwork, Panera, the indoor hotel pool, and now a movie. If I can talk my husband into a back rub, tonight will get 5 big sparkly stars! husband looks really cute when he is concentrating.

.....I love military families. Really. Today when we were searching for a home we found some that we really really like, and there is a park right next to them. We took the kids out of the car to play and burn some energy and I met a sweet woman who lived in the housing we want to get. I asked her a couple questions and she invited me in to show me around and gave me a tour of her home. Within 2 minutes of talking to her. Love that. (now we are saying some prayers that we get to be her neighbor. the odds are definitely not in our favor, but we are still hoping!)

.....someone remind me to take pictures. I brought my camera but we've been sop occupied with the house hunt that the only pictures I have taken have been in our hotel room. lame.

My children are looking awfully worn and rugged right now so I need to get them all dinner ready. Time to round 'em up! That's one of the benefits of a hotel room.....less places to look for them.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ham & Gruyere Hawaiian Sweet Roll Sammies!

I spent the past 4 or so hours cramming stuff into suitcases, putting together outfits, making lists, and charging everything with a power source. I should be finishing the last of the packing for our big trip to Virginia tomorrow, but I needed a break.

And I also remembered that I have been meaning to share a little bit of delicious with you. A few days ago my husband called me at about 11am to say that he should be home by 1. That NEVER happens! So I told him not to eat anything so I could make him lunch and we could have a special little (late) lunch date....with our two littlest, of course.

I found the recipe in my Taste of Home magazine and knew it would be a hit. My family loves ham and rolls. I am not a fan of ham AT ALL, but I really like these little sandwiches!

Hawaiian Sweet Roll Mini Sammies

1 Pack of Hawaiian Sweet Rolls (12 rolls in a pack)
1 lb of Black Forest Ham from the Deli
12 slices of Gruyere (Swiss would be yummy too)
1 Tub of Chive & Onion Cream Cheese
1/2 cup of melted butter, plus more for greasing dish
1 Tbsp of Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 Tbsp of Dried Minced Onion
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan

Preheat your oven to 350. Grease your 9x13 baking dish with butter. The recipe doesn't say to grease your pan with butter, but if I've learned anything from PW, it's that you GOTTA HAVE BUTTA! Cut your sweet rolls in half and line the bottom half of your dish with the bottom halves. Set the tops to the side.

In a bowl, mix melted butter, Worcestershire Sauce, minced onion and parmesan. Set aside.

Put a good-sized layer of ham on top of the bottom halves of the rolls. Then lay a slice of gruyere on top of the ham.

 Spread the tops of the rolls with the chive & green onion cream cheese. I wouldn't go to heavy here because you don't want to only taste cheese-- that would mask the hammyness and that would be just wrong. And remember, ham and I aren't great buddies, so that means something. Once the cream cheese is spread on top, place the tops on the cheese layer, completing your little stacks.

Now that your sandwiches are all layered, you just need to give them a fun little kick. Enter the bowl mixins. Drizzle the bowl of butter, sauce, onions and parmesan on top of your sandwiches, using your fork to coax the onions out (otherwise the onions are stubborn and will plop out on the last sandwich). Each sandwich should have some of that on top.

Cover your dish with foil and pop those suckers in the oven. The online recipe says to let 'em cook for 20 minutes, but I'd set your timer for 18 or so and check on them because I did a full 20 minutes without looking at them and the tops were a little crispier than I care in charred. The last time I made them I kept checking on them so they were fine. Which is why there is no after. But, it's not like it stopped us. 

Let me know if you make them! They are good good good! Enjoy friends!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Extreme Home Makeover Season Premiere!

Last week I was offered a special opportunity, one that I am excited to share with you! I was asked if I'd like to watch the season premiere of Extreme Home Makeover: Season 9 before it aired!

I don't think I have ever watched a full episode of the show, but with 4 kids, I have not really watched a full episode of any show in the past eight years if it didn't involve a Golden Girl or a well-drawn Mouse.

When I was told what this particular episode's focus was, I was anxious to jump on board.

I am fairly certain everyone knows what Extreme Home Makeover is all about, and you all know the miracles they work on these structures in under a week. Not only do they restore these homes to blow-you-away condition, they restore peoples sense of hope, of community and of good will in others. More of that, please, world!

Can I just tell you....Season 9 takes all of those good things, and blows them out of the water! I watched the last two-thirds of the show with glassy, tear-filled eyes and a swell in my throat. The show. Is. BEAUTIFUL.

You know I have a special place in my heart for the men and women of our armed forces-- especially our Sailors! So when I heard that the season premiere was going to rebuild the home of a former Naval officer, I couldn't wait to see the story play out. Not only did this woman give over a decade of her life to the Navy, she is now on a mission to ensure that no former servicewoman gets left behind or forgotten.

I don't want to give too much away, but this woman's story is so inspiring and uplifting and she brings light to a subject that not enough people are aware of. Seeing how she continues to dedicate her life to other's and so generously gives all she can, when she truly has very little left to give, it is just amazing. Then to see this large stadium-wide size team of builders, designers, electricians, carpenters and volunteers bless this woman with a beautifully made-over home- it is the very best of who we all can be.

How can watching a television show so renew my hope in the human spirit and my faith in people's goodness?

Simple. It reminded me, it focused in on, the notion that there are people- LOTS of them- who are still willing to stop what they are doing, go without, and be inconvenienced, to help others in need. That people see someone doing good, and it makes them want to be a part of it. Tapping into that goodness makes you want to pass it on and join in.

Oh, and did I mention one Very Important Person who joined in on this makeover?!?!

The First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, jumps in to help out! How many shows push the First Lady herself to join in, rolls up her sleeves and make herself a part of the mission to give this former Sailor a beautifully redone home? It's incredible!

You guys have to check it out! It premieres on Sunday, September 25th on ABC. You can watch the trailer below to get a little peek at what's in store!

I'm honored to have been chosen to see the premiere early and be part of the excitement surrounding the show's new season! Enjoy the show, folks......and you might want to have some tissues ready and get your clappin' hands revved up!

.....oh, I am seeing someone about the excessive exclamation point use, but for this post, the exclamations were all that would do :)

Disclosure: I was given the opportunity to watch this show before it aired, but in no way am I being compensated for this review. The opinions shared here are my own and are not a reflection of any political view. I only share and discuss things I feel strongly about and feel would benefit my readers.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

what I REALLY look like. (my sister, too)

I don't have a lot of pictures of me. Mostly because I am the one usually taking the pictures. 

And the pictures I do have, I am covered in children.

Actually, the only current photos I have of myself are the ones I took for my husband using the photo booth thingamajig on my laptop, or the cell phone shots I took of myself in the mirror so I could ask my friends for approval on outfits or to show them a spiffy new article of clothing. They certainly aren't pictures I'd put out there for all to see on the internet....heh heh heh.

Rather than do a solo photo shoot, I commissioned two local artists to render my portrait. And whaddaya know, I just got the finished products back this afternoon!

For those of you I have yet to meet in real life, this is EXACTLY what I look like. EXACTLY.

The one on the left was drawn by Kaiti. I believed she used a colored wax medium. I love that the double wide stroller made into my portrait. Oh, how I wished the ends of my hair did that cute little flip thing.

And the one on the right was done by my sweet Tyler, who primarily used lead. He got my 80s perm and candy corn nose so precise, it's frightening. 

Then there is my sister. We come from good stock, folks. If you don't believe me, just take a gander at her portrait.

My niece Olivia has a talent that far transcends age and experience. (I really mean that.) The accuracy with which she's astounding. The detail with which Olivia drew Kelley's three thick eyelashes, it blows me away. And the right-sided chin-- that is Kelley's trademark! 

When Kelley isn't wearing her purple toe shoes and hot pink skirt, this is what she looks like. Just like her portrait!
The artist, Olivia, is the adorable little girl on the left.

There you have it. That's me, up above. (and my sister, too.) If you happen across a tired looking woman with crazy tight curls, pushing a double wide, with glasses perched atop her candy corn nose, please.....stop and say hello. And maybe offer me a curl-relaxing treatment. :)

Plan C...She's (a tiny bit) Crafty!

For a while now, I've been wanting to make a chalk board wall in my kitchen to designate responsibilities for the kids. The start of the school year further necessitated some type of management board because when my kids come through the door, they literally are kicking shoes off and flinging back packs, as if they just conquered Everest and want free of all their imposing gear. It's a mess and we need some mandated organization around here.

I have a pretty frame that I had in mind for the chalk board section, and was thinking a fresh coat of bright paint, mount that sucker to the wall to frame the chalk board paint and I'd be all set. What's more, the project would not cost me a penny because I have everything I need.

But my husband does not like the idea of a chalkboard wall. He sees the potential for a big mess and doesn't think it's a great idea to paint a section of a wall with chalkboard paint when we know we will be moving in the next 6 months.


So I needed a plan B. I thought about it and had all but decided to get a piece of a thin board and spray paint that with my chalk board paint and then mount the board to the back of the frame, and I'd have a little (11x14) portable chalk board with a livened up frame (by way of some fresh, vibrant paint.) That was the plan.

Until I came across this POST (clicky clicky). Enter plan C. And you know why I love plan C more than plan B? Because it gives each child their own space, their own individual board that sets them apart from their siblings. So here they are!

Yes, I even included Evie in this, and let me tell you, she has filled each responsibility every single day.

These boards were super duper simple. I made a quick trip to Michael's for the little chalk boards. Each board was on sale for $2. I purchased a letter for each child, which was $1.49 each. The paint, chalk and paint pen I already had. So out of pocket, this cost about $14. Not too terribly bad.

I painted each board's frame, then painted their little letters and dabbed on some little polka dots with my paint pen. Then I hot glued their first initial letter to a corner of each board. I wrote with paint pen on the boards the tasks that will not change. Now, when they get home from school, they take care of their "responsibilities" and proudly return to check off the box. I add different things every day, too. And on the bottom, I write if someone has something coming up or if there is something that needs fall dance permission slips or baseball practice that night. 

When the paint dried, I stuck those little velcro tabs to the backs, and mounted them to the wall. The nice thing about that is no nails (yay for less holes to fill later!) and I can easily pull them down from the wall and put them back up!

Oh, I took a cue from Katy, the lovely innovator behind no big dill, and drew pictures (or attempted to draw pictures) of things that are expected from Jack. In case you cannot decipher the amazing pictorials scrawled across Jack's board, his tasks include:
-washing his hands (yes, that is a sink)
-putting his shoes in his closet (a croc would have been more explanatory)
-putting toys away (blocks, balls, and cars go in the basket, son!)
-be happy and listen (as I told my friend Dabni, we outlaw all emotions other than happiness up in here, so get your smile out, because we don't have time for sadness, anticipation, or frustration. sorry. smile smile :))

Since these boards are right next to the fridge, they get seen A LOT :) The space is not done just yet. I got a little bulletin board strip that I want to run down the center, I just want to mod podge some cute little scrapbook paper to it first. And there is some pretty washi tape I've had my eye on that I might use to frame the space with. Not sure on that one yet.

That's all for now folks! Enjoy your Tuesday!

I am linking up to I {heart} naptime's Sundae Scoop HERE!!!
(lots and lots of great projects so go check it out!)

Monday, September 19, 2011

not me monday! it's baaaaa-aaacckkkkk!!!

Guess what guys? Not Me Monday's are back!!! You can check out all of the funny Not Me's over HERE and read mine below to make you feel better about the little blips and mishaps that occur in your own lives. Cause I tell you what, it's good to know that I am not the only woman running around doing these things...or Not.

I did NOT do very sloooooooowwwwww laps around the grocery store last week on an unprecedented solo trip to pick up food. I was NOT smiling a big goofy grin and practically skipping behind my cart at the sheer joy of casually breezing through the store without any little people pulling at coupons, screeching about cereal, or insanely running down the stores aisles. And I did NOT, the very next night, ask my husband if he needed anything special, just so I could attempt a repeat of the same grocery store retreat.

I did NOT introduce myself to a friend's husband, saying "Hi xxxx, I'm Shannon, so good to finally meet you". I would NOT have said that because apparently, I had already met him- twice. "Yeah, good to see you Shannon, we met a couple times last year." And it WASN'T me who, with lack of anything better to say, muttered, "Oh yeah, that's right, your hair looks different." Um, I would NEVER have said something so ridiculous, because one, the guy was in the Navy and those hair cuts don't really change, and two, that implies that when meeting people, I only stare at hair. Oh gosh, Shannon.

Last spring, after playing with my glasses, Jack dropped them on the ground and stepped on them, crunching them to pieces. The idea of taking 4 kids to the eye doctor while I got an eye exam to update my prescription had my head reeling. But I don't let a little fear of 4 noisy children in a crowded quiet waiting room throw me off. So I promise it was NOT ME who went 7 months without wearing glasses, and who is now wearing glasses around the clock because of the damage done to her eyes during the time without them. Astigmatism AND Far sightedness....PEACHY!

Who makes yummy cake batter blondies at 11pm because just the thought of them caused a puddle of drool on the coffee table? NOT ME!! I just eat carrots and rice cakes whenever the urge for sweets strikes.

Who looked the other way when she saw her youngest daughter gnawing on her oldest daughter's toothbrush? NOT ME!! That is super ick. I would never allow my baby girl to swap germs with her sister for the pure sake of 15 minutes of peace and quiet.

Who keeps putting off bra shopping and is walking around wearing incorrectly sized brassieres that pinch and push? NOT ME!!! I would NEVER wear something that forced me to keep tucking the ladies back in every 20 minutes, just to escape the painstaking task of trying on correctly sized cups that might actually fit.

And what kind of grown woman would throw a hissy fit, stomp off in denial and scream CHEATER just because her totally uncoordinated, got-no-kinda-rhythym, uncomfortable-to-watch, awkward-dancing husband beat her at a Wii Just Dance competition! It sure in the heck was NOT ME!!!!

"who writes blog posts when she should be folding laundry and picking up around the house? not my mama!!" -everleigh nelson

For more Not Me's click on this fancy button!

Mckmama- Not Me Monday

insta monday

Happy new week friends!

Even though the temperatures here are still in the high 80s and even low 90s (with a good dose of humidity for extra measure), it still feels fall-ish. Or maybe I just want it to feel fall-ish so I can wear my soft and slouchy sweaters.

Ahh, Fall. The days are definitely getting shorter, football season is up and running, and things are changing around our homefront. And the best part of this Pumpkin Spice Latte season-- my husband will be home for it!!!! 
Hip hip hurrah!!!!

*you should know, I live constantly prepared for a knock at the door by one of my friends ready and willing to stage an exclamation point intervention. but until then.... !!!!!!!

I have got piles of laundry to put away and salsa that needs eatin', so today I will just share some of my instagram photos. I have a somewhat-crafty post coming up, I just need to get some pictures taken for it. I was looking for a way to delegate responsibilities and came across a post at "no big dill" that suited my needs perfectly. By the way, if you're not already reading this blog, you need to check it out. She is all kinds of crafty and amazing and takes beautiful pictures of her equally beautiful children.

Time to get my insta on.

while I was doing dishes, he was stealing my drink

her 8 hairs still managed to make a bad hair day. that's nothing to cheer about Elmo!!!

trip to Big Air was big fun. I have the friction burn to prove it.

one of my new necklaces from Love Stitched. delicate flower, lovely color! 9am

evie + ebby waiting on their big brothers at baseball practice

the picture I messaged my friends with asking if I could wear my boots with my dress. 3 said yes, 2 said no. I changed my shoes. (and windexed my mirror)

same boots. different dress. did not ask opinions on this one. I just did.

Enjoy your Monday! I have some salsa calling my name.

Friday, September 16, 2011

watching them grow

How do we measure growth? The obvious methods of height charts and scales, okay.....

But really, as mom's, we measure the growth of our littles in entirely different ways.

And it's in these special ways that we realize how fleeting each moment, each period, each milestone is.

I don't get teary-eyed when I see that my son has gained 3 pounds on the scale, or when I realize his shoes are now in single big-people digits size. 

The tears and moment of pause come from other things.

When I watched my little girl brushing her hair the other morning and pulling a section neatly back with a bow, then she sat down on the floor as she tied her sneakers and then offered to help her little brother with his shoes- it stilled me. One moment it's slip on shoes like Mary Janes or Crocs or flip flops, the next she is lacing up her sneakers and tying them into perfect little bunny ears. She is not a baby girl anymore. Tears.

When I go to wake Tyler up for school and see him sitting on his bed reading a book, all dressed for school, backpack next to him and a full lunch box ready to go. My son can make a turkey sandwich all by himself. Wha....when did he...whaaa?? Why do I want to cry when I see him using a knife to carefully spread a dab of mayo across the bread, stack nice layers of turkey, and then use the knife to divide his sandwich into two? The lunch making is no longer an exclusive duty of mine. It's not something he needs me to do for him anymore. When did he get so big?

Don't even get me started on the day Jack learns to properly pronounce the "L" and "Th" sounds. Oh my gosh. When our cat becomes Lucky instead of Yucky, when he gets his Legos instead of his Yegos. When things are This and That, and not Diss and Dat. I'm gonna need to sit down for that.

And then there is this one. The little strawberry patch on her forehead is fading fast, leaving not much trace of the baby that came her own way a little over a year ago. She is walking and dancing and likes to yell out "RAHHH!" to us-- cause you know it's super scary! The same little girl that was stretching and kicking inside my belly not too long ago is now lifting my shirt up a bit to blow raspberries on my tummy. In a blink.

It's a blessing to watch our babies grow, to watch them learn, absorb, apply and do. But as a a's a reminder of how fast it all passes and sends my heart on that impossible quest of bottling every drop of every moment up.

Those height charts ain't got nothin' on watching my kids skip away from me in shoes they laced up all on their own. And a turkey sandwich.....a turkey sandwich has me in tears.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


There is nothing like the smell of freshly cut

fabric in the morning! 

Okay, it may not have a smell that you can actually smell, but, it does pack the punch of a Grande Caramel Light Frappuccino. And here comes the Starbuck tangent....My GCLF makes me so happy! It breathes some energy into me, it jumps start my day, it is just so pretty and slightly foamy and just, just...WONDERFUL! The same kind of get-me-going wonderful that this fabric is! (um, why is frappuccino underlined in red? it is fine the way it is spell-check. how has Mr. Webster not approved that one yet?? get with it, dude! it's 2011!) 

I'm having a tough time choosing which fabrics are my favorite.

I REALLY love this one. It is just all kinds of lovely.

And then this one had the adorable whimsy going on.

The blues and greens of this one.....LOVE!

And the varied warm tones in this floral print, yay!!

And then there's the purples. I must be on a purple kick because when I was shopping on Etsy, I realized 90% of the fabrics in my cart were a shade of purple. I went back and adjusted, but I could not let go of these two.

Sorry about the dark photos! My dining room design studio does not get a lot of morning light.  I cannot wait to get going with these fabrics. I JUST inherited a beautiful Pfaff sewing machine from a very sweet- and also very creatively gifted- friend. She created my first handmade diaper bag that I loved, and shortly after, made me a beach bag and some smaller pouches that have been used and used and lent out and used and- well, you get it. She isn't sewing as much as she used to because she also has 4 little people....among them 2-year-old twins and an almost 1-year-old little guy. She also recently upgraded to a neato machine (the kind of machine that comes with special overhead lighting so that when you approach it, it's lit up like a treasure in a desert and you hear that 'oooaaaaawwwwwwwhhhhhhhhhhh' kind of reverent gasp echoing in your head.) She generously parted with her Pfaff on a night when I texted her that I was about to chuck my current sewing machine out the window. I cannot wait to sew with this beauty. 

For the astute observers, I'd just like to explain that I do not do shots of liquor while I sew. (not yet anyway) I use the shot glass to trace little  circles for the fabric flower headbands I make for my girls.
Seriously, cannot wait to sew! It just needs a wee bit of fine tuning, and then I'm off. What I lack for in sewing skill, ability, knowledge and anything else important to sewing, I make up for in enthusiasm. Well, not really. I'm not sure I can really make up for lack of ability, but it's a nice thought, isn't it? I get excited when my lines are straight. But thankfully my little models are not that particular. They are usually just happy to eat goldfish in a seat that desperately needs a hose down.

.....also, I wanted you to know I wrote a post a couple days ago, but for your sake, I deleted it. Just so you don't feel like you missed out on something wonderful {you're welcome}, it was titled "How My Rotary Cutter Changed My Life" and was basically just an ode to my rotary cutter. The level of praise I directed towards my rotary cutter was slightly he (my rotary cutter) would read what I wrote and be so thrilled that I was bragging on him, he'd just start busting out new tricks, like magically winding my bobbin or operating in auto mode and cutting fabric while I wipe down baby seats. 

Also, it was a comically sad how excited I was to cut straight lines. I realize- after reading it- that most people can do that with plain ol' scissors. So I trashed the post. I figured I'd save the crazy side of me for a really special occasion. You know, like Columbus Day. Which is coming up, by the way........

Speaking of Columbus**, I just noticed that while I've been typing, my 2-year-old has disrobed completely and is playing his brother's DS in the buff on the fireplace while drinking from my bobble
Which basically's time to go :)

Happy Thursday Y'all!! 

**I'm really amused with myself that I linked to Columbus, just in case you're not aware of this guy. I'm here to help. 


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